On this page, you will find information on different ham radio awards that can be obtained and how you go about it. This is by no means a comprehensive guide but a good starting point.
NOTE: This page, like many others on this website, are likely to get regular updates as things change or as I feel there should be additional information included.
For starters here are the most common awards people go after:
DXCC - DX Century Club. Mixed, by Band and by Mode (CW, Phone, Digital), Generally Awarded 160-6m, Need 100 entities to Apply. (ARRL award) This is perhaps the most popular award and results in an eventual "Honor Roll" once you pass a threshold and "#1 Honor Roll" once you worked them all. You can find more information on the LOTW website.
DXCC Challenge - DX contacts by band combinations, need 1000 to apply. (ARRL) This is almost, if you will, an add-on to the DXCC award. For example if you have worked 120 countries on 5 bands, you got 600 "points". Once you hit 1000, you get your plaque with the first 1000 endorsement. All other endorsements are in increments of 500. 3000 is the "ultimate" achievement but if you the math, being hit by lightning is more likely for most of us then getting to 3000.
VUCC - VHF UHF Century Club. Mixed, by Band and by Mode (CW, Phone, Digital), Awarded 6m and above. The number required varies by band, higher is generally less. (ARRL)
WAS - Worked All States, Mixed, by Band and by Mode (CW, Phone, Digital). Requires 50 states (includes KL7 Alaska and KH6 Hawaii which also count for DX), endorsements all require all states for all categories. (ARRL)
CQ WPX - Prefix awards, endorsements for Bands and Modes and even continents. The number required varies by Band, Mode, Continent. (CQ)
IOTA - Island on the Air, Requires 100 for the initial award, can be endorsed. There are other awards offered by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and those can be found here: https://rsgb.org/main/operating/amateur-radio-awards/
WAZ - Worked all Zones, this can also be endorsed for each HF band (Except for 60m as of January 2021) and 160m, which is technically MF. (CQ)
WAC - Worked all Continents (IARU) and can be endorsed for each band.
USA-CA Awards - This is the worked all counties awards. Starts at 500 and max of 3077 for ALL USA counties. You can find more info here: https://cq-amateur-radio.com/cq_awards/cq_usa_ca_awards/cq_usa_ca_awards.html (CQ)
The Canadian counterpart to the ARRL, Radio Armatures of/du Canada (RAC) also offers a few awards which can be found here: https://www.rac.ca/operating/rac-operating-awards/
Canadaward - For working all provinces, much like WAS for for the US by ARRL, this also has a 5 Band version available. You can also get a very nice looking 5 Band Plaque.
Trans Canada Award - 55 contacts for the 10 call areas as well as a combination of other areas. See website for more details as some can be combined and some areas only count for one. A little complex but makes sense if you read up on it carefully.
Province Capitals Award - contact with 10 provincial capitals – St. John’s, Newfoundland; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Quebec, Quebec; Toronto, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Regina, Saskatchewan; Edmonton, Alberta; and Victoria, British Columbia and these can be mixed mode, any band so should be fairly easy to obtain.
Worked all RAC - for communications with all RAC official stations.
St. Lawrence Seaway Award - contacts along the St. Lawrence Seaway
There are many Japanese awards out there offered by JARL but here are some Japanese awards worth mentioning:
AJD - For having worked all 10 call areas. Pretty easy to get, especially from the west coast
AJA - This is perhaps the hardest if you want to keep going with it, is an award for "guns" or cities and "ku" areas. This can be something you can work for endorsements on for decades!
WAJA - For working all 47 Japanese prefectures. There is also an SWL version called HAJA for those who do not claim 2 way contact.
Sadly, the application process for these as of January 2021 is still manual labor, involves lengthy spreadsheets and such, so many do not go for them. Hopefully in the future this will go electronic on it's own or via something like eQSL or LOTW perhaps.
JARL also offers JCC, JCG and even awards for D-Star contacts. If you obtain 10 or more of their awards, you can also apply for the JARL Award Master (JAM) award.
You can get info on all the JARL awards here: https://www.jarl.org/English/4_Library/A-4-2_Awards/Award_Main.htm
This page is sponsored by:
There are many other awards offered by various clubs which I will add more details on as time allows. Some of these are: FISTS, OMISS, EPC, AAC, 10-10, 070 and so on! If you are specifically interested in having one listed here, drop me a line!
Additionally, there is software to help you manage your road to award wallpaper! Besides many of the sites (like LOTW and eQSL) where you upload and get a feel for your standings, other awards might be better visualized by using software (linked below) or those included by some logging programs. I personally use Ham Radio Deluxe as this time with the following:
- Ultimate AAC (Ultimate Award Application Center)
- This is used for EPC, CDG, NDG, 30MDG, FT8 DMC, ERC, AGB awards https://epc-mc.eu/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&id=2:windows&lang=en
- FISTS Log Converter
- Used for FISTS specific awards such as Prefix, Century, Rag Chewer, Down Under, Platinum and many more. https://fists.co.uk/flc.html
- Awards Tracker by W5DJT
- This is an amazing piece of software for tracking ARRL awards (all), 10-10, CQ, County Hunters, 070 Club, Omiss, EPC, RAC, IOTA, SOTA, AAC as well as some user defined capability! I would love to see the Japanese awards added to this list! https://www.w5djt.com/index.php/component/content/
- Ham Radio Deluxe
- As I mentioned, this is my primary one for basic awards tracking. This paid software has an outstanding Award Tracker built into it. While it is paid, has many other nice features and in my opinion the best logbook especially when setup with SQL. Worth checking out the paid version! https://www.hamradiodeluxe.com/ I do hope to see them expand some more in the awards they check for but they are doing a pretty good job already regardless.
There are also awards available via eQSL, which is an alternative to the LOTW system, which can be used to apply for most of the common awards. Some CQ awards can be applied for via LOTW now. Those from other countries, best to use the links I provided above.
My general rule of thumb to awards: If it is a station I have not worked on a given band OR mode, just work them and ask questions later. If it is a unique prefix or a rare region (an area with little or no hams) go out of my way to work it!
If you find something incorrect, have an update, or if there is something you would like to see added, drop me a line here. I like to keep things as up-to-date and as accurate as possible. Thank you! - Lucas / W6AER